August 20, 2007

I will periodically post case citations from the Federal Circuit along with the date of the opinion/order and a brief list of the legal topics discussed therein (specifically those with additional embedded case law citations). My goal is to post new cases on a weekly basis. This posting covers the three patent cases that were appealed from the district court level and decided by the Federal Circuit during the 31st calendar week of 2007. All opinions are precedential unless otherwise indicated.

Somerset Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Dudas (07/31/2007, nonprecedential): appeal of district court’s order denying request for preliminary injunction (request to compel USPTO to issue a decision as moot dismissed, otherwise district court’s decision affirmed); discussion of patent related to a method for treating depression by using a drug patch (U.S. Patent No. RE 34,579, entitled "Method of treating depression"); plaintiff filed a patent term extension application with the USPTO in 2006 to extend the patent to 2007; "a movant is not entitled to a preliminary injunction if he fails to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits"; in this particular case, the Director of the USPTO denied Somerset’s application for extension because he has no statutory authority to issue the interim extension sought by the patentee; patentee has not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, and because the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Somerset’s motion for a preliminary injunction, that denial is affirmed

Sony Electronics, Inc., et al. v. Guardian Media Technologies, LTD. (08/03/2007): appeal of motion to dismiss declaratory judgment actions for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (vacated and remanded); discussion of two patents related to methods and apparatuses for blocking the viewing of certain television programs (U.S. Patent No. 4,930,158, entitled "Selective video playing system", and U.S. Patent No. 4,930,160, entitled "Automatic censorship of video programs"; plaintiffs sought a judgment that the two patents were not infringed, that they were invalid, and that they were unenforceable against them due to laches and equitable estoppel; the phrase "case of actual controversy" [from the Declaratory Judgment Act] "refers to the type of ‘Cases’ and ‘Controversies’ that are justiciable under Article III"; lengthy discussion included regarding what is and is not an actual case or controversy; "[i]n promulgating the Declaratory Judgment Act, Congress intended to prevent avoidable damages from being incurred by a person uncertain of his rights and threatened with damage by delayed adjudication"; Guardian asserted that it is owed royalties "based on specific past and ongoing activities" by the plaintiffs, and because the plaintiffs contend that they have a right to engage in those activities without a license, so there is an actual controversy; vacated and remanded for the district court to determine in its discretion whether to entertain appellants’ declaratory judgment suits.

SafeTCare Manufacturing, Inc. v. Tele-Made, Inc., et al. (08/03/2007): appeal of summary judgment of noninfringement of the patent-in-suit (affirmed); discussion of patent related to wide and strong hospital beds (U.S. Patent No. 6,357,065, entitled "Variable width bariatric modularbed"); in explaining the importance of referring to the specification in determining and understanding the meaning and scope of a patent claim, the Court has stated that "the specification ‘is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis. Usually, it is dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term’"; based upon review of Markman claim interpretation, the allegedly infringing device does not exert a pushing force as required by the asserted claim; because Burke’s product does not infringe claim 12 (the only claim asserted of the ’065 Patent), the decision of noninfringement is affirmed


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Mark Reichel
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I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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